Fertility change in Egypt: from second to third birth
Fertility patterns in countries on the northern shore of the Mediterranean have lowest-low fertility and are very different from those in the South-East of the basin. Recently, however, fertility decline has been spreading rapidly in the latter region. This paper focuses on Egypt, a country that notwithstanding an advanced stage of socio-demographic transition has shown near stagnation in the reduction of fertility levels in the last decade. The first phase of the fertility transition generally has been marked by an increase in the age at marriage; in the long run, however, it will be the diffusion of the smaller family that plays the major role in countries of advanced transition, such as Egypt. The study aims at analyzing the main determinants of the third-birth intensities of Egyptian two-child mothers, applying event-history analysis to the most recent retrospective survey data available for the country. The study’s results show that there are still persistent fertility differential among the country’s social groups. The diffusion of urban-type norms, however, makes crowded and complex household types less feasible to maintain, possibly leading to a convergence in fertility levels to the northern Mediterranean countries. The study also reveals that the preference for a son is weakening among women who have completed secondary education. The findings point to a further decline in the number of large families in the near future; a decline that is intimately associated with the current fertility transition and the promotion of female emancipation.
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